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August 2003, Week 1


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Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 6 Aug 2003 07:24:07 -0500
text/plain (48 lines)
The LA Times has published a group of letters--both pro and con--regarding
David Weddle's attack on film theory.  Here's Edward Branigan's response

Also in the piece is Garner Simmons' characterization of semiotics as
flatulent, self-serving, over-intellectualized, pretentious nonsense (his
words, not mine).  Simmons, like Weddle, is a biographer of Sam
Peckinpah.  The two participated in the audio commentary on the STRAW DOGS DVD.

>Film Theory: Elitist Nonsense or a Critical Life Lesson?
>August 3 2003
>I wish to clarify that, despite a clear implication to the contrary, I did
>not teach the class in film theory that David Weddle's daughter took and
>which led to his dismay over wasted tuition dollars ("Lights, Camera,
>Narratology?" July 13). Considering Weddle's good-spirited attempt to
>capture my lecturing style, I should say, "It was NOOOOT! my class." In my
>theory classes, however, I am trying to expose young adults to a
>comprehensive range of ideas to stimulate their curiosity, interest,
>critical thought and, eventually, their informed participation in the
>political process. In 10 weeks, students read 54 articles and 32 handouts
>covering the period of 1916 to the 1970s.

 >Weddle's battle is with the theoretical paradigm of the 1970s, which he
 >considers excessively obscure, of no practical value and anti-humanist.
 >Still, his definition of the "humanist tradition" is far too narrow. After
 >all, there are only humans telling themselves stories to believe in. As for
 >film theory, it is deeply concerned with the factors that influence a film,
 >and which make it be that film and no other. Meanwhile, I believe that was
 >chalk dust, not dandruff, on my glasses. But I'll check.
 >Edward Branigan

>The complete article can be viewed at:
>Visit at

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